That gum disease and diabetes appear to be linked isn’t news. What is new is a study in Acta Diabetologica confirming the association.
For it, researchers analyzed a set of 13 studies involving nearly 50,000 individuals, including 3197 who had diabetes. And what did they find?
Meta-analyses of adjusted estimates showed that diabetes increased the risk of incidence or progression of periodontitis by 86%.
In other words, severe gum disease was more likely with diabetes; likewise, a worsening of the condition. This is in line with earlier findings, as well as research suggesting that periodontal problems may be an early indicator of diabetes.
Indeed, there appears to be a two-way relationship between these two conditions. We also know that periodontal treatment can improve glycemic control – and quite possibly other systemic health problems linked to gum disease, including heart disease, stroke, and rheumatoid arthritis.
And we know that preventing gum disease in the first place can help lower your risk of developing such conditions and improve your overall health and well-being. What does that involve?
Regular dental care – both professional and at home. If your mouth is generally healthy and you’re at low risk of developing periodontal disease, once-a-year exams and cleanings are usually fine. Otherwise, more frequent visits are called for.
Brushing twice and flossing at least once a day should be a habit. Don’t like to floss? Other tools for cleaning between your teeth – proxy brushes, oral irrigators, and more – can be just as effective, particularly when combined with antimicrobial botanicals or used to apply ozonated oils to the gums. Oil pulling can be helpful, well.
Smoke- and tobacco-free living. Cigarette smoking and other tobacco use is the number one risk factor for gum disease. Avoid it, and your risk drops dramatically. Smoking cannabis and vaping likewise may pose risks to oral health.
Good nutrition. Gum disease is marked by chronic inflammation, and certain foods can fuel it – mainly sugars, refined starches, and other highly processed carbs. Instead of these, go with whole, unprocessed (or lightly processed) foods, including lots of fresh veg and fruit, rich in antioxidants. Consider using more anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial herbs and spices in your cooking, too – turmeric, ginger, garlic, cayenne, and more.
Probiotics. Research has shown that probiotic therapy – whether through diet or supplements – can be helpful in managing gum disease.
Plenty of sleep. For most of us, that means 7 to 9 hours a night, every night.
While doing all of the above may not guarantee that you’ll avoid the fate of most other Americans and keep your mouth gum disease-free, it’s the best insurance you can get for keeping the odds in your favor for a lifetime of good oral health.